Thursday, December 31, 2009

Pope Benedict XVI Celebrates First Vespers And Te Deum Prayers




VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - DECEMBER 31: Pope Benedict XVI kneels to pray in front of the traditional crib in St. Peter's Square at the end of the Te Deum prayer on December 31, 2009 in Vatican City, Vatican. On new year's eve two different perspectives converge; one is the end of the calendar year, the other is the solemn liturgy of Mary, which concludes with the Octave of the Nativity. The first event is common to everyone, the second is for believers. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images) 


New Year's Resolution for Jesus



This year, rather than doing something for yourself that you will give up or change, try this. Do something for Jesus. I mean, really give Him something that you want to change or seek a new approach at growing in your relationship with Him. 

Perhaps try going once a week to Adoration or go to daily Mass, or perhaps go to confession more regularly (at least once a month), or spend an hour each day in prayer to be open and to be led by Him. 

There are so many ways we can grow... but we die if we are not united to Him like a branch on the vine and allow Him to live deeper within our soul. 

May this new year give you a new and fresh look at your relationship with God. May it be a real and deep one that lasts not just a year but for all eternity.

Vatican: 37 missionaries killed in 2009


The Vatican has published the names of all the missionaries who died violently in 2009. In all 37 people were killed on active duty, the highest number in the past decade. Among them, is a lay person, 2 seminarians, 2 nuns and 30 priests.


One of them could be considered a martyr since it appears he died a victim of a religious hate crime.

We’re talking about James Mukalel, who was killed in Mangalore, India in late July.

But the largest blood bath took place in Latin America, where 21 missionaries have lost their lives. 6 missionaries died in Brazil, one of them was Spanish and another Italian. 6 others died in Colombia, 3 in Mexico, 2 Spanish priests were killed in Cuba, 2 in el Salvador, an American priest in Guatemala and another priest in Honduras.

The continent with the second largest number of missionaries killed while on duty is Africa. 4 died in Congo along with 4 priests in South Africa including one from France and another from Austria. An Italian and Irish priest were killed in Kenya and another priest was killed in Burundi.

In Asia, two priests died, including one in India as a result of anti-Christian sentiment.

Two missionaries died in the United States, a religious in New Mexico and a priest in New Jersey.

Meanwhile, Europe is the continent at the bottom of the list, that’s where Louis Jousseaume, a French priest was killed by an ill person he was looking after.

The Vatican hopes these violent acts come to an end and by publishing the names of those who lost their lives, their hard work will live on.

Pope Benedict XVI final weekly general audience of the decade


 
Pope Benedict XVI held the final weekly general audience of the decade, focusing on 12th century theologian Peter Lombard. His best known work is Sentences, a collection used in the teaching of theology.

Pope Benedict stressed one of Lombards most significant contributions is his treatment of the sacraments. The pope said Lombard captures the essence of the sacraments and called them the great treasure of the Church

Benedict XVI
"During this Year for Priests, I encourage priests, as ministers of the sacraments, and all the faithful, to grow in appreciation of the beauty and harmony of our faith, to cultivate the sacramental life, and thus to grow in union with Christ and his Church."

He also encouraged all to keep in mind the whole vision of the Christian doctrine against today's risks of fragmentation and devaluation of individual truth. At the end of the his final weekly audience he wished everyone a happy new year


Need to pray? Try iRosary



Technology has come to praying the rosary.

The Catholic Sentinel, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Portland, Ore., recently reported that a new iPhone app, iRosary, helps guide the faithful through the rosary and the mysteries on any particular day. It also allows a user to stop the prayer and return at a later time in case you’re interrupted.

Developed by Dave and Jackie Brown, parishioners at St. Francis Church in Bend, the application has been around for about a year. The couple’s idea for the app arose after their young daughter, Isabella, made an unexpected recovery from leukemia. They said they wanted others to experience the comfort of prayer, particularly the rosary.

Isabella is doing fine now. And the Browns are offering iRosary through iTunes at 99 cents per download. It recently surpassed the 20,000 download mark, making it the most popular Catholic application on the site.

Reporter Ed Langlois wrote that the small screen depicts animated beads that can be moved with a touch. Corresponding prayers pop up on the screen along with devotional images.

Another popular app allows traveling Catholics to find local Mass times. It’s a free download and is available at CatholicWeb.com.

Synod, saints, shroud all on papal calendar for 2010


 
As Pope Benedict XVI says goodbye to 2009, his 2010 calendar is already being filled.

On the horizon for the next 12 months are four papal trips; a Middle East Synod of Bishops; the expected publication of a document on the Bible and the second volume of "Jesus of Nazareth;" a major gathering of the world's priests; a pilgrimage to the Shroud of Turin; a probable consistory and several likely canonizations and beatifications -- including that of Pope John Paul II.

In April Pope Benedict marks five years in office, and the event will no doubt be marked by modest festivities and lots of analysis on the accomplishments and priorities of the German pontiff, who turns 83 the same month. read more


Te Deum 2009

December 31, Seventh Day in the Octave of Christmas


 
The last day of the year is also the feast of St. Sylvester — bishop of Rome in 314. Constantine gave him the Lateran Palace, which became the cathedral church of Rome. Many legends exist about Sylvester. He supposedly cured Constantine from leprosy and later baptized him on his deathbed.
 
Pope Sylvester I was elected in 314 and led the Church during a time of peace after centuries of persecution. He was able to build the first St. Peter’s Basilica and he is the first person who was not a martyr to be venerated by the Church as a saint. Today Pope Benedict will meet with Fr. Adolfo Nicolas, the Director General of the Apostleship of Prayer, and will give him his prayer intentions for 2011. This will give the Apostleship time to translate them and prepare materials to help people pray for them. Now, as we come to the end of another calendar year, we pray for the Holy Father and all his intentions as we reflect on words he spoke at last year’s solemn vespers on this day.

The year that is ending and that which is approaching on the horizon are both under the blessed gaze of the Most Holy Mother of God. … Christ's Nativity, which we are commemorating in these days, is entirely suffused with the light of Mary and, while we pause at the manger to contemplate the Child, our gaze cannot fail to turn in gratitude also to his Mother, who with her "yes" made possible the gift of Redemption. This is why the Christmas Season brings with it a profoundly Marian connotation; the birth of Jesus as God and man and Mary's divine motherhood are inseparable realities; the mystery of Mary and the mystery of the Only-Begotten Son of God who was made man form a single mystery, in which the one helps to better understand the other. became man to set us free you did not spurn the Virgin's womb".

This evening, let us place in the hands of the heavenly Mother of God our choral hymn of thanksgiving to the Lord for the gifts he has generously granted us during the past 12 months. The first sentiment which spontaneously rises in our hearts this evening is precisely that of praise and thanksgiving to the One who gave us time, a precious opportunity to do good; let us combine with it our request for forgiveness for perhaps not always having spent it usefully. …By coming into the world, the eternal Word of the Father revealed to us God's closeness and the ultimate truth about man and his eternal destiny; he came to stay with us to be our irreplaceable support, especially in the inevitable daily difficulties. … In our times, marked by uncertainty and concern for the future, it is necessary to experience the living presence of Christ. It is Mary, Star of Hope who leads us to him.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Soap Opera


As a mother of six this is just confirming what I have always suspected, a new study shows that hand sanitizers only reduce bacteria by 46-60%. Use soap and water. Read article here

The True Odds of Airborne Terror Chart


After the  most recent bomb attempt there has been a lot of noise about airplane security again but what's the actual risk of an airplane attack? Here's the definitive chart from fivethirtyeight:




As you can see, the chances are very slim. As slim as the chances of the new security rules having any real effect in preventing any new attacks, sadly.


Secularism in America

Dr. Patrick Carey of Marquette University and author of Catholics in America reflects in this [2'30"] video on secularism and religiosity in the United States, concluding that the U.S. [still] holds religion in special regard.


The 12 Days of Social Media Christmas


On the 12th day of Christmas, my true friends sent to me, 

12 Podcasts Playing 

11 People Left on MySpace 

10 Linkedin Connections 

9 New Apps Downloaded 

8 Measurements of ROI 

7 RSS Subscriptions 

6 Bloggers Blogging 

5 Golden Nings 

4 Facebook Likes 

3 New Fans 

2 Twitter Birds, 

And a video that’s worth a retweet.

These Final Hours

Sixth Day in the Octave of Christmas - A HOLY DAY HAS DAWNED UPON US



As we continue to savor the joy that Christmas brings to us and to the world, let us pray that the world may recognize in the Incarnate Word the light that will guide it from the darkness of injustice and conflict to the peace that God alone can give. Our reflection is from Pope Benedict’s 2007 Christmas “Urbi et Orbi” Message.

“A holy day has dawned upon us. Come you nations and adore the Lord. Today a great light has come upon the earth.” (Day Mass of Christmas, Gospel Acclamation)

Dear Brothers and Sisters! “A holy day has dawned upon us.” A day of great hope: today the Savior of mankind is born. The birth of a child normally brings a light of hope to those who are waiting anxiously. When Jesus was born in the stable at Bethlehem, a “great light” appeared on earth; a great hope entered the hearts of those who awaited him…. Admittedly it was not “great” in the manner of this world, because the first to see it were only Mary, Joseph and some shepherds, then the Magi, the old man Simeon, the prophetess Anna: those whom God had chosen. Yet, in the shadows and silence of that holy night, a great and inextinguishable light shone forth for every man; the great hope that brings happiness entered into the world: “the Word was made flesh and we saw his glory” (Jn 1:14). …

“Come you nations and adore the Lord.” With Mary, Joseph and the shepherds, with the Magi and the countless host of humble worshippers of the new-born Child, who down the centuries have welcomed the mystery of Christmas, let us too, brothers and sisters from every continent, allow the light of this day to spread everywhere: may it enter our hearts, may it brighten and warm our homes, may it bring serenity and hope to our cities, and may it give peace to the world. This is my earnest wish for you who are listening. A wish that grows into a humble and trustful prayer to the Child Jesus, that his light will dispel all darkness from your lives and fill you with love and peace. May the Lord, who has made his merciful face to shine in Christ, fill you with his happiness and make you messengers of his goodness.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

What's Your Catholic IQ?



What's Your Catholic IQ? Take the test here.

Caroling




Carol singing from house to house is an ancient tradition in central Europe on the twelve nights between Christmas and Epiphany. The Poles call these nights the "Holy Evenings" (Stoiete Wieczory). 

Another widespread practice is the performance of religious plays portraying events of the Christmas story (such as the Nativity, the visit of the Magi, the flight into Egypt, and the massacre of Bethlehem). In southern Germany and Austria many such plays are still performed in rural communities. Among the northern Slavs (Poles, Ukrainians, Czechs, Slovaks) a puppet theater (szopka) is in vogue; its religious scenes alternate with secular dramatic exhibits. In the cities of Poland children put on Christmas dramas (jaselka). 

A similar performance (Bethlehemes jatek) is done by children in Hungary; a representation of the manger is carried from house to house, little dramatic plays are enacted and carols sung. 

Today would be a good time to gather with family and friends enjoy some Christmas goodies and spend an evening singing Christmas carols.

Fifth Day in the Octave of Christmas - Feast of St. Thomas Becket



Given the tempo of the liturgical season with its feasts it is easy to overlook that one saint who for many centuries was, after Mary and Joseph, the most venerated person in European Christendom. 

St. Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury was assassinated in his cathedral on December 29, 1170 because of his opposition to his former friend, King Henry II of England, who was encroaching on the liberties of the English Church. 

Devotion to him spread like wildfire. He was enshrined in the hearts of men, and in their arts. In statues and stained glass, in song and story this good bishop was everywhere to be found: France, Italy, Spain, Sweden. Many miracles were attributed to his heavenly advocacy. — Excerpted from Days of the Lord

The saints who are assigned immediately following Christmas are honored because of their special connection with Christ. December 29, the Feast of Saint Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, who was martyred in his cathedral by the soldiers of Henry II in 1170, is the true anniversary date of his death. 

Because of the great shock and sensation that this martyrdom caused at a time when all of Europe was Catholic, the Roman authorities, in the thirteenth century, deemed it appropriate to assign the celebration of his feast within the privileged days of Christmas week, thus adding him to the group of "Christ's nobility."


Monday, December 28, 2009

Vatican to decide fate of woman who knocked down pope

The Vatican will decide how to proceed with the young woman responsible for knocking down Pope Benedict XVI during Christmas Eve Mass only after it reviews medical and Vatican security reports, said Vatican spokesmen. 

Critical to the prosecutor's decision will be the doctors' evaluation concerning the woman's mental state and whether or not she was "of sound mind," Father Ciro Benedettini, vice director of the Vatican press office, told Catholic News Service Dec. 28. The prosecutor will also take into consideration eyewitness accounts, he said. 

When the Vatican prosecutor has all the information, including a medical evaluation, he can recommend acquitting her of any crime, handing her over to Italian or Swiss authorities, or handing down a sentence, Father Benedettini said. 

The prosecutor will send his recommendation to the Vatican tribunal, which will then make the final ruling, he said. 

Susanna Maiolo, 25, jumped a security barrier at the start of the Dec. 24 liturgy as Pope Benedict processed into St. Peter's Basilica. As Vatican security guards tackled her to the ground, she was able to pull on the pope's vestments, causing him to lose his balance and tumble to the marble floor. 

The woman, who has Italian and Swiss citizenship, was taken away by papal guards. She was not armed but she showed signs of mental instability, according to a Vatican statement Dec. 25. read more



Hundreds of Christmas gifts pour in to replace what 'Grinch' stole




The Grinch wore a size 11 1/2 shoe, weighed about 240 pounds and was down a few drops of blood.

But the parishioners of Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Violet said the person who stole 65 Christmas gifts collected for the parish's Angel Tree program in the early morning hours of Dec. 20 ignited a positive surge of donations and Christian charity that more than made up for the brazen pre-Christmas theft.

"They had the Grinch, but we've got this," said Our Lady of Lourdes parishioner Rainy Cook Dec. 22 as she wrapped some of the hundreds of replacement gifts that came flooding into the church after news of the break-in went global on cable news and the Internet.

"It's a resurrection -- having everything taken from us to new life," said Father John Arnone, pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Church, which reopened only a month ago after Hurricane Katrina nearly destroyed the church in August 2005 beneath 12 feet of water. "We probably got in about six or seven times as many gifts as were taken. The outpouring of generosity, support and concern has been overwhelming." read full story here


The Shepherd and His Flock



Pope Benedict XVI arrives for a visit at a soup kitchen in Rome, Sunday, December 27, 2009, despite raised security fears. Escorted by heavy security, the pope traveled to the soup kitchen to share a meal with the poor. It was his first appearance outside the Vatican since Thursday evening. The pope smiled at children, caressing the hands of some of them as he entered the center operated by the Sant’Egidio Community, a lay Catholic group based in Rome. 

via http://www.overheardinthesacristy.net/

Prayer to End Abortion - Feast of The Holy Innocents



On this feast day, let us remember the present day massacre of the holy innocents through the crime of abortion.


Prayer to End Abortion


Lord God, I thank you today for the gift of my life,
And for the lives of all my brothers and sisters.


I know there is nothing that destroys more life than abortion,
Yet I rejoice that you have conquered death
by the Resurrection of Your Son.


I am ready to do my part in ending abortion.
Today I commit myself
Never to be silent,
Never to be passive,
Never to be forgetful of the unborn.


I commit myself to be active in the pro-life movement,
And never to stop defending life
Until all my brothers and sisters are protected,
And our nation once again becomes
A nation with liberty and justice
Not just for some, but for all.


Through Christ our Lord. Amen!

FEAST OF THE HOLY INNOCENTS - Fourth Day of Christmas



The story behind today’s feast is found in Matthew 2: 16-18. King Herod saw the newborn child Jesus as a threat and ordered the deaths of all the baby boys in Bethlehem. Today there is a new slaughter of innocents—all those children who are not respected and loved but aborted. Let us pray for an end to abortion with a “Prayer for Changing the Culture” by Fr. Frank Pavone, the founder of Priests for Life

God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we come into your presence in His name. We have heard the voice of your Son, and therefore we can make our voices heard. We have been justified in the blood of your Son, and therefore we can oppose every form of injustice. We have repented of our sins, and therefore we can lead the sinner to repentance. We have done battle with the power of evil, and therefore we can have compassion on those still within its grip. We have been freed from the kingdom of darkness, and therefore we can bear witness to your Kingdom of Light.

Lord, as we come before you today, we repent, we resolve, and we rejoice. We repent of every instance in which fear has made us silent when we should have spoken. We repent of the ongoing bloodshed in our land, and for ever daring to think that we can deprive the unborn of protection but keep it for ourselves. We resolve that we will work more generously to advance your Kingdom. … We resolve that we will declare boldly to our people that no public official who fails to respect the life of a little baby can be trusted to respect our lives.

Father, today we rejoice, because we are not simply working for victory - we are working from victory. The victory of life, truth, and grace has been won by your Son's death and Resurrection. Today we hear his voice again. "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I hold the keys of death and of hell. Behold, I make all things new." Father, we rejoice that we have been made new, and as we work to renew our culture we look forward to the great day of his coming, when every eye will see him, even of those who pierced him, and every knee shall bend, and every tongue confess, to the glory of God the Father, JESUS CHRIST IS LORD! In his Blessed Name we pray. Amen!



Sunday, December 27, 2009

Mother Theresa on Home and Family



" In Jesus, Mary and Joseph - the Holy Family of Nazareth-we have beautiful example for us to imitate. What did they do?

Joseph was a humble carpenter in order to support Jesus and Mary, providing their food and clothes-whatever they needed.

Mary, the mother, also had a humble task-that of a housewife with a son and a husband to take care of.

As the son was growing up, Mary would worry that he would have a normal life, that he would "feel at home" in the house with her and Joseph.

It was a home where tenderness, understanding and mutual respect abounded. 

A wonderful example for us to imitate"

Pope: The family teaches how to say Yes to God



Pope Benedict reflected on the Family before reciting the Sunday Angelus on the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. He said the Christian family does not consider children possessions, but educates them to have the freedom which enables them to say yes to God, and to do his will. In the Gospel reading, Jesus, just 12, is in the temple, without his parents knowing. Pope Benedict says in this passage we see the true meaning of Christian education, which is the fruit of an ongoing collaboration between educators and God.

Year of the Priest - Fr. Arthur Eugene Lai Fook

 

In dedication to the Year of the Priest, I will be submitting blogs on some of the priests in my country, many are retired, but I admire them dearly for their witness to the Lord, dedication and hard work. They are truly our Lady's Beloved Sons. 


Fr. Arthur Eugene Lai Fook CSSp was ordained priest on July 20, 1947, in Switzerland.

He is the youngest of eight children, born in Penal, to Joseph (a Chinese immigrant from British Guiana) and his Guianese wife Jessie. Arthur Lai Fook’s association with St Mary’s College, where he still lives in Spiritan House for retired priests, goes back to 1930, when he entered the Frederick Street school on a private school exhibition, with no thought whatever of becoming a priest; and in 1937 won one of two open scholarships.

Fr.Lai Fook then taught Mathematics for one year at his alma mater and having decided that he wanted to be a priest, spent one year with the Holy Ghost Fathers in Orly, France, as a novitiate. In 1939, he entered Dublin University College, Dublin National University in Ireland, and in five years completed a BSc and MSc in Mathematics, a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and a Higher Diploma in Education, while living at the Holy Ghost Seminary. Lai Fook started to study Theology in Dublin and continued at Fribourg in Switzerland towards the Baccalaureate in Theology.

He returned to teach up to A level math at St Mary’s. However from 1962, he carried out stints of two years each at the University of Nigeria and the University of the West Indies at St Augustine, before returning to his beloved St Mary’s College in 1966 where he has taught the sixth form scholarship from up to this time. “This will probably be my last year,” says the educator who has been fondly referred to as “Jap”, “Chin” and “the Fook” by his students.

During his lifetime, Lai Fook has tutored 91 winners of National Scholarships in Trinidad and Tobago, boys and girls, some from St Joseph’s Convent Port-of-Spain and St Joseph, and St Augustine Girls’ High School. With a remarkable memory, he recalls his first scholarship student in 1950 was gold medallist Harry Schachter. Four others who also won Gold Medals were Godfrey Mungal (1971), Ian Adam (1986), Christine Manickchand (1988) and Karen De Freitas (1991). He also still coaches students for the Math Olympiad.

A now mellow Lai Fook says “my health is good as can be expected at this age.” He dispels rumours that he recently collapsed on the altar: “It’s just that I am not too strong on my legs and going upstairs if I do not lift my feet sufficiently, will stumble and naturally fall.” He still says Holy Mass on weekdays at the College Chapel, and at other places including the Convent Chapel, and the Belmont L’Hospice for the Carmelites; and accompanies the Cluny Nuns on their annual holiday to Cumana to say Mass for them. He still drives himself.

Fr.Lai Fook views on what he considers “correct positions” held by the Roman Catholic Church on some controversial subjects. One of them that only practising Roman Catholics come to communion, “is the rule of the church.” “Abortion,” says Lai Fook “ is the killing of an innocent baby therefore it is murder.” While celibacy for priests “is the law of the church for centuries and from the Catholic point of view there is good reason for it.” And whether lifting of celibacy will help to stop rampant sexual abuse by priests which has only this week cost the Los Angeles Diocese settlement payments of four billion dollars, he was clear: “It is surely wrong for the priests to act in that way, but it happens outside as well. However priests should know better.”

As to recent reports of a possible return of the Latin Mass, Lai Fook says “the Pope has always given permission for priests who want to say the Latin Mass, and if there are enough people asking for it they should supply it. I seem to remember Fr. de Verteuil was asked to say a Latin Mass a number of years ago.” In his 60 years as a priest, in a country of countless annual retreats, Lai Fook, could only explain having never been asked to preach at retreats, with a wry smile: “They probably think as a teacher of math I would not be able to come down to the level.”

The oldest of the 12 priests in residence at Spiritan House: “It could only be the Holy Ghost Fathers, it was the natural thing to think of joining when you went to school with them...I have never said I do not want to be a priest. I enjoy the quiet life”

FEAST OF THE HOLY FAMILY - Third Day of Christmas



Our prayer this month—that children may be respected, loved, and never exploited—is really a prayer for families, the primary environment in which children live. And so on this Feast of the Holy Family, it is very appropriate that we pray for families throughout the world. In seeking the will of God above all, may they follow God’s plan for marriage and family life. Our reflection is from Pope Benedict’s Angelus Message on this feast last year.

On this Sunday following the Nativity of the Lord we are joyfully celebrating the Holy Family of Nazareth. It is a most suitable context because Christmas is the Feast of the family par excellence. This is demonstrated by numerous traditions and social customs, especially the practice of gathering together as a family for festive meals and for greetings and the exchange of gifts; and how can the hardship and suffering caused by certain family wounds which on these occasions are amplified go unnoticed? Jesus willed to be born and to grow up in a human family; he had the Virgin Mary as his mother and Joseph who acted as his father; they raised and educated him with immense love. Jesus' family truly deserves the title "Holy", for it was fully engaged in the desire to do the will of God, incarnate in the adorable presence of Jesus. On the one hand, it was a family like all others and as such, it is a model of conjugal love, collaboration, sacrifice and entrustment to divine Providence, hard work and solidarity in short, of all those values that the family safeguards and promotes, making an important contribution to forming the fabric of every society. At the same time, however, the Family of Nazareth was unique, different from all other families because of its singular vocation linked to the mission of the Son of God. With precisely this uniqueness it points out to every family and in the first place to Christian families God's horizon, the sweet and demanding primacy of his will, the prospect of Heaven to which we are all destined. For all this, today we thank God, but also the Virgin Mary and St Joseph, who with much faith and willingness cooperated in the Lord's plan of salvation. …

Dear families, do not let the love, openness to life and incomparable ties that unite your home weaken. Ask God for this constantly, pray together so that your resolutions may be enlightened by faith and strengthened by divine grace on the path to holiness. Thus, with the joy of sharing all things in love, you will give the world a beautiful witness to how important the family is for the human person and for society. The Pope is beside you, praying [to] the Lord especially for those in every family who are most in need of health, work, comfort and company.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Find God in 60 Days



Klavan makes a good point -10 min. a day for 60 days can change us.

Kids Christmas essays



What did the animals say to Baby Jesus?

Each year, The Compass asks children, in fifth grade and under, to participate in our Christmas essay project. Their perspectives add to our celebration of the Nativity. read stories here.

Second Day of Christmas - St. Stephen



We celebrate today a deacon of the early Church who was stoned for believing that Jesus was the Messiah who came into the world to save all people (see Acts of the Apostles chapters 6 and 7). As we read the following excerpt from a sermon of St. Fulgentius of Ruspe that appears in today’s Office of Readings in the Breviary, let us pray that the love of Christ may transform all hearts to respect and love every child in the world.

Yesterday we celebrated the birth of our eternal King. Today we celebrate the triumphant suffering of his soldier. Yesterday our king, clothed in his robe of flesh, left his place in the virgin’s womb and graciously visited the world. Today his soldier leaves the tabernacle of his body and goes triumphantly into heaven. Our king, despite his exalted majesty, came in humility for our sake; yet he did not come empty-handed. He brought his soldiers a great gift that not only enriched them but also made them unconquerable in battle, for it was the gift of love, which was to bring men to share in his divinity. …

And so the love that brought Christ from heaven to earth raised Stephen from earth to heaven; shown first in the king, it later shone forth in his soldier. Love was Stephen’s weapon by which he gained every battle, and so won the crown…. His love of God kept him from yielding to the ferocious mob; his love for his neighbor made him pray for those who were stoning him. Love inspired him to reprove those who erred, to make them amend; love led him to pray for those who stoned him, to save them from punishment. …

My brothers, Christ made love the stairway that would enable all Christians to climb to heaven. Hold fast to it, therefore, in all sincerity, give one another practical proof of it, and by your progress in it, make your ascent together.



The 12 Days of Christmas



The Twelve Days of Christmas are the days from Christmas until the beginning of Epiphany (January 6th; the 12 days count from December 25th until January 6th). On the updated calendar — since Ephiphany is celebrated on a Sunday — these days may be more or less. We have 17 days on the tree this year because the Christmas season extends until the feast of the Baptism of Christ and we have decided to include them all.
 
The origin of the Twelve Days is complicated, and is related to differences in calendars, church traditions, and ways to observe this holy day in various cultures. In the Western church, Epiphany is traditionally celebrated as the time the three Wise Men or Magi arrived to present gifts to the young Jesus. In some cultures Epiphany is observed as Three Kings Day, or simply the Day of the Kings. Even though December 25th is celebrated as Christmas in these cultures, Epiphany is often the day for giving gifts. In some places it is traditional to give Christmas gifts for each of the Twelve Days of Christmas. 

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Proclamation

Vatican admits pontiff vulnerable to assault in public




The Vatican has said it is impossible to protect the Pope from incidents like that on Thursday night, when a woman grabbed him at Christmas Eve Mass.

Spokesman Frederico Lombardi said the Pope was regularly surrounded by tens of thousands of people at audiences, Masses, greetings and other events. 

He said it was unthinkable to create a wall between the Pope and the faithful. 

Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi, himself recently attacked in public, warned of "hatred and extremism". 


The Pope was not injured when Susanna Maiolo, 25, hurled herself at him in St Peter's Basilica at the Vatican but an elderly French cardinal standing nearby, Roger Etchegaray, suffered a broken hip. 

The woman, who tried to throw herself at Benedict at the same Christmas Eve service one year ago, is now receiving psychiatric treatment and Mr Lombardi said he thought she would be dealt with very leniently by the Vatican. read more


Holy Father's Christmas Message




Here is a Vatican translation of Benedict XVI's Christmas message, which he gave today at noon from the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica.
* * *
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Rome and throughout the world,
and all men and women, whom the Lord loves!

"Lux fulgebit hodie super nos,
quia natus est nobis Dominus.

A light will shine on us this day,
the Lord is born for us"


(Roman Missal, Christmas, Entrance Antiphon for the Mass at Dawn)

The liturgy of the Mass at Dawn reminded us that the night is now past, the day has begun; the light radiating from the cave of Bethlehem shines upon us. read full message 

Pope Expresses Wish for Peace and Joy to All


 
Benedict XVI is expressing the wish that this Christmas, all people will find true happiness in the Baby Jesus.

The Pope affirmed this today after imparting the blessing "urbi et orbi" (to the city of Rome and the world).

Speaking in Italian to the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square, as well as all those listening on radio and television, the Pontiff underlined the "new hope" brought by Christ's birth.

The contemplation of the "poor and lowly cave in Bethlehem," he said, can teach families and communities a "simple, transparent and welcoming way of life, full of gestures of love and forgiveness."

The Pontiff extended Christmas greetings in 65 languages. In English, he said: "May the birth of the Prince of Peace remind the world where its true happiness lies; and may your hearts be filled with hope and joy, for the Savior has been born for us."

Attack on pope Benedict XVI during Christmas Mass: Pope fell to the floor


Benedict XVI is unhurt after he was knocked down tonight as he entered St. Peter's Basilica to celebrate the Christmas vigil Mass, reports a Vatican spokesman.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, told reporters that an "apparently unbalanced" woman jumped the barriers and ran toward the Pope and knocked him to the ground as he walked down the main aisle toward the altar.

The woman also collided with Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, 87, who also fell to the ground.

The Holy Father, 82, got back on his feet quickly. When seeing that the Pontiff recovered, the thousands who had gathered in the basilica for Mass cheered.

Cardinal Etchegaray, who is the former president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, was taken to the hospital for a check-up.

The woman was seized by bodyguards and was arrested by the police and taken in for questioning.

The Christmas vigil Mass was celebrated for the first time in recent memory at 10 p.m., instead of at midnight, in an effort to make Christmas "a little less tiring for the Pope."

Let's say a prayer everyday for the pope's continuing safety.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Have a Holy and Merry Christmas from My Family to Yours




Emmanuel God With Us

Hope, Advent from Ryan Johnson on Vimeo.

CHRISTMAS EVE



We are praying with Pope Benedict that all people may recognize Jesus as the light that illuminates the darkness of individual lives and human history as a whole. We pray for this now reflecting on Pope Benedict’s “Urbi et Orbi” Message of Christmas last year.

The grace of God has appeared. That is why Christmas is a feast of light. Not like the full daylight which illumines everything, but a glimmer beginning in the night and spreading out from a precise point in the universe: from the stable of Bethlehem, where the divine Child was born. Indeed, he is the light itself, which begins to radiate, as portrayed in so many paintings of the Nativity. He is the light whose appearance breaks through the gloom, dispels the darkness and enables us to understand the meaning and the value of our own lives and of all history. Every Christmas crib is a simple yet eloquent invitation to open our hearts and minds to the mystery of life. It is an encounter with the immortal Life which became mortal in the mystic scene of the Nativity….

The grace of God has appeared to all. Jesus – the face of the "God who saves", did not show himself only for a certain few, but for everyone. Although it is true that in the simple and lowly dwelling of Bethlehem few persons encountered him, still he came for all: Jews and Gentiles, rich and poor, those near and those far away, believers and non-believers… for everyone. Supernatural grace, by God’s will, is meant for every creature. Yet each human person needs to accept that grace, to utter his or her own "yes", like Mary, so that his or her heart can be illumined by a ray of that divine light. It was Mary and Joseph, who that night welcomed the incarnate Word, awaiting it with love, along with the shepherds who kept watch over their flocks (cf. Lk 2:1-20). A small community, in other words, which made haste to adore the Child Jesus; a tiny community which represents the Church and all people of good will. Today too those who await him, who seek him in their lives, encounter the God who out of love became our brother – all those who turn their hearts to him, who yearn to see his face and to contribute to the coming of his Kingdom. Jesus himself would say this in his preaching: these are the poor in spirit; those who mourn, the meek, those who thirst for justice; the merciful, the pure of heart, the peacemakers, and those persecuted for righteousness’ sake (cf. Mt 5:3-10). They are the ones who see in Jesus the face of God and then set out again, like the shepherds of Bethlehem, renewed in heart by the joy of his love.



Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Vatican paper congratulates The Simpsons on 20th Anniversary



The Vatican’s newspaper has sent ‘The Simpsons’, it’s best wishes on the shows 20th anniversary. In a article titled “Aristotle’s Virtues and Homer’s Doughnut”, L’Osservatore Romano praised the shows 
philosophical learnings as well as its often bold take on religion. 

It also credited the show for teaching viewers how to laugh. The article cited several episodes centered around religion, including one where Homer cries out for divine intervention. 

The newspaper said America’s longest running animated show is “a mirror of the indifference and the need that modern man feels towards faith.” 

Still the newspaper criticized the shows use of crude language and violence.

'The Simpsons’ debuted December 17, 1989 the show has broadcast 449 episodes.

How to Make Christmas Merry and Meaningful

XT3: More than the Catholic version of Facebook



It’s not just any social networking website, it’s one of the top 20 most popular Catholic websites in the world.

XT3, which stands for Christ in the third millennium, launched for World Youth Day 2008 in Sydney, as a way to connect Catholics before and during the event. Now the website has more than 50 thousand registered users.

The Archdiocese of Sydney runs the site and says what separates XT3 from Facebook or Twitter is that this social networking site is more content driven.

The archdiocese says this site offers users news, resources, information on charity projects and advice. One of it’s most popular tools is the “Ask a Priest” column.

Katrina Lee - Archdiocese of Sydney said people can ask questions over the net they wouldn’t feel comfortable asking a priest directly or they’re not sure the kind of answer they are looking for so they can ask him whatever they like and he will answer the question.

But Katrina Lee, who oversees the site says the Church’s presence in the world of social communications isn’t anything new.

One of the greatest communicators was from the Vatican John Paul II he recognized the importance of communication right from the start of his pontificate and wrote and speak about it so often.This year the site is going back to its roots and serving as the spot for the latest updates on the upcoming World Youth Day in Madrid.

So it’s not just about the latest tool, the latest tool has to be used for something bigger and that’s really important that’s really what we are trying to do.So far this latest tool is getting the attention of teens and adults all around the world, while keeping them connected to the web and their faith.

Christmas in the Holy Land



Franciscan Pierbattista Pizzaballa is the Custodian of the Holy Land.

He’s the person in charge of caring for the places where Jesus lived. He has custody over the Holy Sepulcher, the Calvary and of course the grotto in Bethlehem.

Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa - “The Lord is the custodian, I am only an instrument in His hands. An instruments that wants to keep the memories and the living testimony. To be a custodian means being a testimony in that place that has a significant meaning for the world.”

This church is built over the grotto in Bethlehem. It’s where St. Joseph and Mary took refuge and where Jesus was born. A star marks the spot where the Virgin Mary placed the child. This Christmas pilgrims will line up for miles to visit.

“Christmas in the Holy Land is a very big experience, for everyone. It’s always something new.”

It’s been two thousand years since St. Joseph and the Virgin had to escape their homeland because Herod was persecuting them. Today many Christians feel obligated to leave too. Christians who live in the Holy Land don’t see a bright future in store for them or their families.

If Christians continue to flee at this rate, some estimate in a matter of years, there won’t be any Christians living here.

Christians in the Holy Land are pleading for help. The majority of them rely on tourism to survive. Israel and Palestine assure the Holy Places are safe for tourists. That’s why Catholics urge other Christians to visit to get a first hand look at the living conditions in the Holy Land.


Pius XII and the Holocaust: The Secret History of the Great Rescue


A revealing inside look at Pope Pius XII’s crucial role in helping hundreds of thousands of Jews escape Nazi persecution. See detailed documents and hear first-hand accounts of the clandestine efforts ordered by Pius. Plus, a Holocaust survivor tells his story of how nuns hid him in a convent in Rome and kept him and many others safe during the deportation of Jews.  

"Pius XII and the Holocaust: The Secret History of the Great Rescue" is being sold by the Vatican Television Center. 

The 30-minute documentary highlights the story of a Holocaust survivor who tells how he was hid in a convent in Rome.

It also includes firsthand accounts of Pius XII's clandestine efforts on behalf of the Jews.
 

December 23 - Advent a Time of Preparation



Lo, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me; and suddenly there will come to the temple the Lord whom you seek, and the messenger of the covenant whom you desire. Yes, He is coming, says the Lord of hosts. (Malachi 3:1)

Reflection

For children, these last days of waiting are probably the hardest. The goal is in sight now, but it is still far enough away to make the wait seem endless.
When we are grown, waiting for Christmas is not a major problem. Nevertheless, as the day approaches even grownups feel the urgency in the air. As we anticipate the celebration of Christmas, let us look around us. Are those around us anticipating joy and happiness or loneliness and depression?

Prayer for the Advent Wreath

Lord, our God, we praise You for Your Son, Jesus Christ, for He is Emmanuel, the Hope of all people.
He is the Wisdom that teaches and guides us.
He is the Savior of us all.
O Lord,let your blessing come upon us as we light all candles of this wreath.
May the wreath and its light be a sign of Christ’s promise of salvation.
May He come quickly and not delay.
We ask this in His holy name. Amen.

Advent Action

Find someone who is not anticipating the holiday with joy and attempt to brighten their outlook.

Prayer

O come, O come, Emmanuel, And ransom captive Israel, That mourns in lonely exile here Until the Son of God appears.